A very useful Web-based tool called the Global Powder Metallurgy Database now exists to search properties for nearly 2,500 powder metals. The database has been created by parts manufacturers and powder producers across the world through three trade associations: the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF), the European Powder Metallurgy Association (EPMA), and the Japan Powder Metallurgy Association (JPMA). You an find detailed mechanical, physical and fatigue properties for materials identified by ISO or MPIF code. Materials include structural steels, stainless steels, soft magnetic alloys, bearings, and nonferrous. Once you discover grades with acceptable properties, the Web site guides you to specific contacts at suppliers. Data can be downloaded as Excel or FEA software files. Data for metal injection molding was added last year. Use of the database is free, but registration is required.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.